Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Murder Most Foul

WARNING: This post is sad.

This morning was a little hectic. I've been battling a cold my oldest son shared with me, and I admit I overslept, so the boys and I were rushing to get to school. They were having their usual in the car bickering session about nothing in particular. After dropping them off at school, I was glad to get to the land and have some quiet time doing chores. The workers were busy building the brick wall. Things were looking up until I drove in and noticed my goats were zipping round and round the pens.

Then I saw it. A WOLF!  Okay no. I don't think we have wolves here in Tucson. But we do have little coyotes and big dogs. And this was someone's husky that had obviously escaped and came to terrorize livestock on my property. Basically a wolf with blue eyes. Needless to say I was mad and scared for my animals.

So I went after the dog. And as any beloved pet would, it came bounding up to me with that stupid-I-love-you look on its face, just as happy as can be to see me.

Off in the background I saw him. My poor, sweet Ricardo. Dead. Murdered. Offed by that very dog.

"Bad dog! BAD DOG!" And he looked sad about it. Not that I think he really knew what he did. Ugh. Dogs.

I ran over and shouted at the workers, "WHOSE DOG IS THAT!?" They looked frightened of me. (Probably because talons were growing out of my clawed, angry fingers and my eyes were turning bright red.) But it wasn't their dog they said and also that they had chased it off two times before and didn't know it had returned. "IT KILLED MY CHICKEN!" I screamed. They stopped working and looked even more frightened.

I scooped up my Ricardo, who was still soft and warm, and placed him in the bed of my truck so I could deal with the dog. The workers shouted at me that someone was calling at us from the property line. Apparently, the dog's owners. They asked if I had seen a dog and I yelled, "YES, IT KILLLED MY CHICKEN!" Then flames shot out of my eyes and the owners and the dog were instantly incinerated.

No, not really.

I cried. I put a leash on the dog and tied him at the milking ramada. The owners drove up and paid me for Ricardo. Both apologized again and again. One even petted my little, dead rooster. They were very sorry. They said the dog had gotten out somehow and they had been looking for him. They took him away in their truck.

I buried my baby rooster. And that's the downside of free ranging chickens.

Rather than end here, I guess I'll try to be a little philosophical. His feathers were scattered here and there near the chicken coop. Why he didn't just fly back over the fence like he has done every day since I caught him sneaking out, I'll never know. Anyways, I found a tiny clump of his neck feathers and tied them to an old, rusted, unearthed horseshoe the workers dredged up when digging the wall foundation and placed that little memorial by our main gate. Sometimes chickens want to free range farther and wider than the range we give them. Sometimes, so do dogs. They can no more help being chickens or dogs than we can help being human.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What's Going On?

Plain Jane Goat Milk Soap
It's been a while since I posted anything, so here's a quick note to let you know what's going on at the ranch right now.

1. Winter is chilling the nights and shortening the days which means the hens are laying less eggs. Or they're hiding them somewhere real good that I have yet to stumble upon. The goats are giving less milk as it's been close to a year on Star and Pepper being in milk and little Violet is tiny and never gave a lot anyways.

2. Winter froze some of the gigantic garden, so much of it is not producing. We still have a few tomato plants that are barely hanging in there, a lot of bell peppers, eggplants, green onions, cabbage, and I think (hope and pray) the zucchinis are hanging on beneath the plastic sheeting I put up to protect them from frost.

3. The test garden is almost gone. Why you ask? Because when I let my cow out to roam (and I really like to let her do that) she likes to eat the test garden. Don't feel bad. There wasn't much left in it anyways. The few plants that were still alive have been transplanted to the gigantic garden. Besides, Gucci is not all to blame. The goats occasionaly escape and they, too, like to eat bell and chili peppers. Who doesn't want a little spice in their life now and again?

4. The pumpkin patch is halfway gone. For the same reasons listed in number 3. Once the vines in there die out, pumpkins will then be grown within the safety of a fenced area.

5. There's a WALL going up. A five foot brick wall between mine and my neighbor's property. This is great news. I'm 99% sure a goat cannot get through a brick wall. Note the 1%. They're very clever, sneaky animals. I wish the wall was going up around the entire property and that there were little brick goat and sheep houses, but hey, you can't always get what you want. Once the wall construction ends, I will have to do some fanagling with wire fences and pen rearrangements. Oh the neverending joy that is fence repair.

6. The cooler days mean I'm very busy out there moving dirt and poo. A lot. More often than ever before.

7. I've made two batches of Plain Jane goat milk soap. Only soybean oil, goat milk, and lye. That's it. No colors. No fragrances. No weirdness. So, if you want some, it will be available at our Swan and Camp Lowell restaurant location in about four weeks. It has to fully cure first.

8. Gucci likes to bump me with her head until I scratch the spots where her horns used to be. A little frightening, but ends well as long as I do what she wants.

9. Still no baby goats, Mom. We're waiting patiently.

10. The new goathouse is in need of repair ALREADY! They managed to knock down two rooms by way of rubbing and butting on the walls. Hence the mention of dreamy brick goathouses in number 5. Ah, someday...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Creepy Coop

The chickens still haven't taken down all the Halloween decorations...
When we first went into the shed that is now known as the creepy coop, it was FULL of cobwebs. Now only a few remain in the high reaches hens can't get to.


This morning I did a little work in Gucci's pen. With the weather being cool, it's a good time to do the work I don't want to do in the heat. Since the land is in a floodplain, good drainage is a good idea. I'm digging a ditch that will span the goat pen and the cow pen and lead off to the trees at the west end of the property so hooves will stay drier.

What Are These?

We have several of these berry bushes at the ranch and we don't know what they are. Do you?


I like to say that our chickens free-range with the
sheep. But that's only partially true. They have the
ability to free-range wherever they want. And Ricardo
does that every day. I always have to snatch him up and
put him back with the hens. He's turned out to be very
colorful and I don't have the heart to clip his wingfeathers.

Winter is Coming

Depsite the cold, there is always a lot going on at the ranch. This is my feeble attempt to keep the eggplants and peppers from freezing. I know I can't win, but it's still worth a shot...

Friday, November 4, 2011

"BB" Lays another Egg

"BB" aka Big Boy who is now confirmed to be a female.

No one likes my geese. No one but me. I guess geese are like those dogs that only like one person and pretty much hate anyone else. I hold them and pat them and scratch them on their backs every chance I get. They're noisy. They let everyone know there are people about. And they LOVE me. They do. I don't care what anyone says about them. I love them right back. 
BB Lays an Egg

Geese eggs taste just like chicken eggs in case you're wondering. One goose egg is the equivalent of two chicken eggs. This morning I was there to witness BB popping out an egg. It was pretty neat to see.


Harvest from 11-2-2011
Lots of Green Chiles and Bell Peppers!